Author Simon Kurt Unsworth returns with a brand new article about the struggles of writing for a living. And like Kieran in this morning’s post, he’s playing a waiting game…
There’s a thing about being a writer that I always knew intellectually but never understood emotionally; there’s a difference between writing and being a published writer. One is about words, and the other? Well, it’s all about waiting. You craft your stories (or novels, or poems) but at some point you have to send the buggers out and then you have to wait. Sometimes a few weeks, sometimes far longer. You’re in limbo, wondering and hoping but not knowing, almost but not quite forgetting it some days but not others, writing a bit more, writing a bit less, but always, always waiting.
That’s where I am now.
Since my last column, a lot’s happened, but not where The Sorrowful is concerned. Life, as complex, glorious, messy and thoroughly difficult to control as ever, has been getting in the way of things. Remember Rosie? Well, she’s still as gorgeous as ever, and I decided that I couldn’t live without her so I asked her to marry me. She sensibly said yes, so now we’re engaged.
This made, and continues to make, me very happy. My son loves her to bits and is getting on with his new almost-stepsisters really well, which makes me even happier. My divorce is almost through, although discussions continue apace about final delicate details and there are, as ever, poltroons and halfwits to deal with on a daily basis. I’m still working, picking up some private training as well as carrying on my proper job.
Somewhere in all this, I’ve managed finally to write again, completing, submitting and having accepted two commissioned pieces (a short story and a novella) about which I can tell you precisely nothing (because of both editors’ request for no publicity at this point, although I will give you a kind of mashed up teaser: water, sand, storms and Nazi monkeys). I’ve written no more of the novel I started, although I intend to go back to it soon…
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not moaning, not really. My life is working out well, overall. I’m in a good place in my head, despite the writing being slower recently than I’d have liked it to be and the ever-present worries about money. I never expected to be this in love again, nor to have such faith in my future or hope that it might be something to really look forward to. I have Prosecco, beer or whiskey as I want them, I have Blu-Rays to watch, books to read, and I have memories. Hell’s teeth, do I have memories…
It’s the thing I never considered, not ever; the firsts that this writing life of mine would bring me. I wrote stories, which seems a fairly simple thing, and never, no matter what I was writing about, felt like it was more than just writing, for fun, for commission or for the sheer bloody-minded hell of it, yet it’s brought me to such weird and wonderful places!
I have sat next to one of my favourite authors in the first signing I ever did, talking about Orson Welles; I have eaten a fairly mediocre Chinese meal in Calgary with three people whose work I am completely in love with, three people I now consider to be friends; I have been asked to critique stories by people I consider to be my elders and far betters, and have had my opinion listened to and acted upon; I have done readings of my stories on two continents, and drawn a self-portrait in a book for a collector of author self-portraits. I mean, what the fuck? Really, what the fuck?
And it doesn’t stop there, God no! Last month, I was a guest at the Vale Royal Writers’ Group’s summer Wordfest (it was a warm summer night, so of course I read a ghost story set on a cold Christmas Eve). Next month, I’m a guest at the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena’s ‘Seriously Strange’ conference, talking with my friends Steve Volk, Tim Lebbon and John L. Probert on a panel about ghost stories and then hopefully attending the gala dinner with my fiancée.
In September, I’m doing a signing at the launch of a new model line for a great Cheshire memorabilia shop called Creature Feature, possibly alongside cagefighting cross-dresser Alex Reid. I still hope to sell that novel, I have stories to write (the ceramic pig tale is still nagging at me). The world is full of new experiences and I intend to grab each one by its throat and throttle every bloody bit of enjoyment of it until it’s bled white and crying quietly to itself.
Am I waiting? Yep. Am I bored? Not a damned bit, folks. Not a damned bit.
Simon will be back with the next installment of The Bellows next month. Meanwhile, you can catch up on all his previous articles here.